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Congress Avoids Shutdown with Last-Minute Budget Deal

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Congress Avoids Shutdown with Last-Minute Budget Deal

Lawmakers have made a deal and passed a short-term spending bill. This will keep the federal government running until after the election.

The House voted to approve the bipartisan proposal in a 359-57 vote after the Trump administration and House Democrats came to terms on a deal to fund the government through December 11th. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin hashed out the terms of the deal just hours before the legislation landed on the house floor. The agreement likely clears the way for the Senate to pass the bill before the Thursday deadline.

Democrats finally acquiesced to White House demands for farm funding after a long hold out. The deal set aside $21 billion for farms through the Commodity Credit Corp, or CCC. The depression-era institution offers loans to farmers to help them stabilize their income. However, the deal prohibits fossil fuel refiners and importers from tapping into the program. The agreement also includes an additional $8 billion for food security programs like food stamps, which was a key point of contention among Democrats.

Claiming Victory Over the Deal

In typical political fashion, both parties are claiming victory over the deal. Republicans are touting the addition of the farm rescue funds as a big win. Meanwhile, Democrats emphasize their successful push for additional nutritional program funding.

The Democrats also applauded themselves for placing restrictions on CCC funding to fossil fuel firms. After the deal passed, Pelosi released a statement describing the successful Democratic negotiating effort. “We have reached an agreement with Republicans…to add nearly $8 billion in desperately needed nutrition assistance for hungry school children and families,” she said. “We also increase accountability in the Commodity Credit Corporation, preventing funds for farmers from being misused for a Big Oil bailout.”

Inclusions

The nutritional funding deal includes a one-year extension of a program that provides funding for families of school-age children to help them replace the free meals they typically receive in school. Also, the program will now cover children whose daycare centers were impacted by COVID-19.

Republicans also touted the inclusion of the CCC funds as a desperately needed victory for American farmers. The CCC typically provides payments to farmers every year to help them cope with income fluctuations. However, the program practically had no finance after President Trump used the CCC budget to fund coronavirus aid struggling farms. If the deal didn’t go through, farmers likely wouldn’t have received their scheduled CCC payments next month.

The ranking Republican on the House Agriculture Committee, Mike Conaway (R-TX), said the Democratic concession was long overdue. “They’ve been expecting these payments for a year,” Conaway said. “They get them every year in October, just like clockwork. This year should be no different.”

Both sides gave a little to get a little, but that’s politics. A White House official said, “Our main goal is to keep the government funded, and we’re optimistic the principles outlined here can get us there.”

The deal clears the way for the government to remain open through December. By then, the election will be over, and the country’s political outlook could be drastically different. However, the deal clears at least one set of uncertainties and sets the stage for the showdown at the ballot box in November.

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